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Rosa Luxemburg as stickler

Eight letters from Rosa Luxemburg have recently emerged from an addition to the archive of Sozialistische Monatshefte, sent to the IISH from the Bundesarchiv Berlin.
Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), born and raised in Poland, wrote these letters when her high-profile career in the German social democratic movement had not yet begun. In 1896 her first articles in German appeared in Die Neue Zeit. In the summer of 1897, the editor of the competing journal Sozialistische Monatshefte asked Luxemburg to write a contribution on the Polish socialist movement.  A few months earlier, Rosa received her doctorate from Zurich University and married Gustav Lübeck (a German) in order to obtain a German residence permit.

Luxemburg took her time, probably because the subject of her article was extremely complicated. The Polish lands were divided among three different countries , there were two socialist parties and one being developed (the Bund). Finally, her only contribution to the Monatshefte was published in the December 1897 issue. Her correspondence with the editor of SM on the matter reveals her tendency to be overly correct and her fear of making mistakes in German. 

When she sent in her manuscript, she wrote: '...Ich bin jedoch sicher, dass mein abscheuliches Betragen Sie nicht verhindern wird, mein Manuskript christllch zu behandeln and eventuelle Polonismen daraus zu entfernen. Ich erlaube mich noch, Sie besonders zu bitten, die Korrektur sorgfältig revidiren zu lassen, denn die deutschen Setzer scheinen speziell für meine Handschrift unzugänglich zu sein, weshalb sie mir oft unliebsame Fehler hineinsetzen.'* (Weggis bei Luzern, 22 X 1897)

Later on she felt the need to send a postcard stating 'am Ende des Absatzes... schreibe ich: ‘nach jeder Fluth auch wieder die Ebbe’... Bitte, seien Sie so freundlich, die letzten Worte umgekehrt zu stellen, dh: "Nach jeder Ebbe auch wieder die Fluth.'** (10/26/1897).

After publication of the article, she wrote an undated letter pointing out three mistakes and asking for a correction in the next issue.

This file (Heft nr R 117/16) contains a selection of letters made by the SM  editor, written by “very important persons.” The selection yields a list of names that is quite interesting. In the SM main archive there is no correspondence file for Rosa Luxemburg.

*I am convinced that, in spite of my detestable behaviour, you will treat my text in a Christian manner and will clear it of possible “Polonisms.” I take the liberty of asking you expressly to have  it proofread with complete precision, as  German compositors find my handwriting particularly troublesome to read, and often make unwelcome mistakes.
**…. at the end of the article, I wrote:  ‘after the flow comes ebb.’ Please, be so kind as to change these last words to: after every ebb comes the flow. “

21 August 2013